Why I Chose My Agency Rumors

Why I Chose My Agency: Aramis Ramirez

Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez has received MVP votes in five different seasons.  The accomplished slugger spoke to MLBTR today about why he chose his agent, Paul Kinzer of Kinzer Management Group.

On when he first came into contact with Kinzer:

After I played in the New York-Penn League in 1996, I met him in the Dominican and at the time I didn't have an agent, so he was my first agent and my only one.

On whether other agents had tried to talk to him:

A couple of guys when I was playing in the New York-Penn League in my first year in '96, they approached me, but I wasn't really into it. I was just concentrating on baseball. I wasn't worrying about an agent, I was just in A ball, so it wasn't my main thing. Then I met Paul in the Dominican and he seemed like a real honest guy and I signed with him.

On the decision to go with Kinzer, and their relationship:

He had a couple of Dominican players back then, good friends of mine, Neifi Perez and Enrique Wilson. They both told me he was great, and I trusted them. There was a Dominican guy too that worked for him, Abraham Mejia, that I knew since I was 14 or 15.

We have a real good relationship, he's like a father to me. He was the best man at my wedding. It's not a business relationship between me and Paul. It's more like a friendship, a father/son thing. We've been together for so long…he loves my family, I love his, and we always keep in touch besides business stuff.

On recommending Kinzer to other players:

I have in the past. I don't really like that, but if there is a guy that doesn't have an agent, or a young player, I recommend him. I did with [Starlin] Castro when he was coming up. I told Paul he has to go to the complex and sign this kid, he was going to be good.

On his level of involvement in multiyear contract discussions prior to free agency:

I was very involved. That was between me and Paul. Even though he was with a big company before, it was only me and him. He kept me updated every single moment, and I want to be. It was my future and I want to know what's going on.

On the contract clauses with the Cubs that allowed Ramirez to void:

That was his idea all along, and it worked out well.  We did it in Chicago a couple of times and that was a good job on his part.

On Wasserman Media Group parting ways with Kinzer last year, and how that affected him:

I don't really have a relationship with them. To me Paul is my agent, and I know he was with that company, but I guess it didn't work out. I'm sticking with Paul no matter what, he's my agent. It wasn't the company — Paul is my agent, and he has been my whole career. He let me know right away when they were going through the process of separating, and I told him it was not going to affect my relationship with him.

On how the free agent process unfolded after the 2011 season:

I just let him work. I always tell him that I will do my job on the field, he's got to do his job outside the field. He kept me updated, anytime a team called, or we have to go meet somebody. When I was a free agent a year ago we had to go to L.A. and meet a couple of teams out there. He just kept me updated every single step.

Other entries in the Why I Chose My Agency Series include David WrightMatt Holliday, Jay Bruce, Jeremy Affeldt, and Adam Wainwright.

Why I Chose My Agency: Adam Wainwright

The Cardinals and Adam Wainwright hope to come to an agreement this spring on a long-term contract extension that will keep the right-hander in St. Louis. His agent Steve Hammond will play a large part in determining whether or not that happens. Wainwright sat down with B.J. Rains for MLB Trade Rumors to discuss his personal relationship with Hammond, the man that holds his future in his hands:

“When I was drafted out of high school I went through the draft with my brother as my council. He’s a lawyer and he handled negotiations for me in that right so I didn’t per se have an agent at that time, but I didn’t want to mix family and business and I don’t think my brother did either. The first time that I kind of opened the door for agencies to come interview me or me interview them I should say was in the instructional league or the Gulf Coast League or maybe even Spring Training of 2001. I had all the agencies come in, I had the Boras group come in and the Hendricks brothers came in and some big agencies came in from up north. I really liked all of them to be honest with you but then I had Steve Hammond come in and visit me.

“The first time Steve called to interview I had never heard of him. It was around Valentine’s Day and my girlfriend at the time who I am married to now was coming to visit me and I needed a Valentine’s Day present so I went to the mall to get her something and I completely big leagued him – I forgot to show up for our meeting. He had his feelings hurt a little bit but he came back around the second time and I said I completely forgot, I was getting something for Jenny, please forgive me, let’s go out and meet again. We went to a Cuban or Dominican place to eat dinner and just talked about what he brought to a player’s career and what he’s looking for in a client and I really liked that. He didn’t sit there and tell me how great I was for an hour straight. He just shot me straight and told me about him and we talked about golf and baseball and instantly I thought this is the guy I want to go with but logically you sit down and say but do I need to go with one of these more established, bigger agencies? Looking at his career he had represented a lot of people that I knew. He represented Chipper Jones for a time and Orel Hershiser and some big guys so I knew he had the ability to be a great agent and he was a great agent but he brought the intangibles to that I was looking for. 

“What I got from Steve was more than just an agent. He was a guy that I just got a great feeling about. All things being equal, I looked at all the agents and I realized they were all great agents so I said well what is the one thing that is different that is somebody that I need to pick and Steve Hammond had that. I looked at him as somebody I respected as a father. I looked at his family life. He and I had a lot of similar interests. He’s a former player but he loves golf and tennis and ping pong and doing all those kinds of things with his boys. I just got to interact with him a little bit and I really felt like I was part of the family and I felt like he was part of my family and since that time I feel like he is part of my family. Steve has become one of my biggest spiritual mentors in my life. He’s more than an agent. He gets mad when I introduce him as my agent to other people. He’s almost more than a friend too. I really do think of him as family. He’s almost like a father figure to me or an uncle figure or a brother figure – one of those family figures. He’s just a guy that I can look to. I trust him completely. I trust him with anything I bring to the table. I trust his advice and that was something that really caught my eye. You can get a feeling of someone’s character and integrity right away when you talk to someone a lot of times and he and I just clicked.”

Why I Chose My Agency: Jeremy Affeldt

By freelance writer Dave Pond for MLB Trade Rumors.

Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt has been a Moye Sports Associates, Inc., client since 1999, and signed a three-year $18MM contract with the Giants shortly after their 2012 World Series Championship. It was Affeldt's third contract with the Giants, following stints with Kansas City, Colorado and Cincinnati. The veteran left-hander spoke with freelance writer Dave Pond about his agency for MLB Trade Rumors:

How did you get hooked up with Mike Moye (Moye Sports Associates, Inc.)

In 1997, I signed with the Royals out of high school and, although I didn't have an agent, I did have a guy who advised me as I negotiated my first contract. When I went off to rookie ball, everyone told me I needed an agent. My mom had seen an article on Mike in Sports Spectrum [a Christian sports publication], told me that he was an agent and a Christian, and that she thought I should give him a call. 

I called Mike and we talked. He told me that I didn't really need an agent during rookie ball. He wasn't just trying to sign me to sign me. Mike said that we should just get to know one another, and see if he was the kind of guy who I wanted to work with. He said he could help me get shoes and things like that — that I didn't need an agent to do those deals — but down the road, if I wanted to work with him, that we could talk about it then.  Mike's not one of these gung-ho, Jerry MaGuire-type guys who comes in with his hair slicked back and a lot of talk. He's a warm, low-key guy, and very professional at what he does. He really takes the time to listen to you, and learn what's important to you. 

A couple of seasons later, I was really doing well in Charleston, and made the single-A All-Star team. I was at the hotel, and I got a bunch of calls from different agents, and I really didn't want to meet with any of them. I was still trying to figure our professional baseball at the time, and I didn't want to have to deal with any of that. So, I called Mike and told him I wanted to sign.

That's what impressed me about Mike so much — he wasn't all about how fast he could sign someone, or see how many guys he could sign. He wanted to make sure I was a quality player, not just on talent, but when it came to character, too — that I was I the kind of guy he wanted to represent, and that I wanted a guy like him to represent me. It was a two-way street, and I was really impressed with that.

What sets Moye apart from other agents?

Several GMs have told me that Mike has a real bulldog mentality when it comes to representing his players in the negotiating room, but that he's one of the best guys to work with as well. He knows his stuff, but he doesn't lie to make you look better or make a team look worse. He doesn't manipulate situations — he's honest with teams he's talking to, and he expects teams to believe him. I want an agent who teams enjoy working with, as well as one with high integrity, good character and good values.

When you meet him, he's not "Hollywood" —  he doesn't seem like your stereotypical agent. You definitely don't look at him at first glance and think "sports agent." I didn't want a Hollywood-type guy — I want to work with a guy who I enjoy spending time with. He's a family-first guy who cares about his wife and kids and where they are at spiritually, so all of that really played into it, too. 

Why have you stayed with Moye Sports?

I'm a very strong Christian man, so I want that type of influence in my life, whether I'm negotiating a contract or if when I'm frustrated with the front office. Mike can talk to me from a Christian perspective as well as from an agent's perspective and that's big for me, because it helps me make the right decisions. Most importantly, Mike reminds me about who I represent — I don't represent me, I represent Jesus.

As professional athletes, we're basically entrepreneurs. We run our own business, and we need people to help us make decisions that will be the best for our families. When we're dealing with the kind of money we're dealing with, and have to make the kind of decisions we're make, I have to have wise counsel, and know that everything is on the table. 

Mike's not just a "yes" man, and he fights for what he knows is right. For Mike, it's never been about how much money he can get Jeremy, so that he'll get a bigger cut — it's how can he help me in life, so that I not only receive great contracts to support my family, but also that I represent  Jesus well in everything I do. Over the years, Mike has helped me become a Major League Christian athlete — not just a Major Leaguer, but a solid Christian man who can represent the Gospel in a tough arena to represent Jesus in. 

Why I Chose My Agency: David Wright

Third baseman David Wright signed an eight-year, $138MM extension with the New York Mets last December. Months earlier, agents Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES faced a PED-related investigation from MLB. Wright recently spoke about his relationship with the Levinson brothers, what intrigued him about the ACES group coming out of high school and why he remained loyal to his agency last fall:

On how he first came in contact with representatives from ACES…

“I guess just like any other agent, they have guys in the agency that come out and scout some of these tournaments and stuff and try to set up interviews with players to have them, I guess you can’t have an agent before the draft but an advisor, and I remember I just clicked with the guys from ACES and in particular Keith Miller. I remember he came down and watched a couple of my high school games and we hung out and talked and obviously I had quite a bit of respect because I knew who Keith Miller was, he was a former player, a former Met, and it opened up my eyes that this guy played, he knows what it’s about. 

“Then he sat with my family and I at home and he showed us some arbitration briefings and just how much work they put into free agency and what they do for their players during arbitration and stuff and that obviously opened my eyes and being fans of some of the players they represented, it seemed like they were a big enough company where they could throw their weight around and people knew them and respected them but at the same time, they were small enough where you got a lot of individual attention and they’ve lived up to that and more.”

On when Sam and Seth Levinson came into the picture…

“It was after I got to know Keith quite a bit, I had kind of narrowed my choices and agents down and that’s when Sam and Seth got involved and like I said, just the work ethic, it was something that attracted me to them. Just hearing them talk for the first time. It wasn’t so much a sales pitch. They were going over what they do for players as far as marketing, endorsements, obviously contract stuff. I was just really impressed with not only their body of work but also just their enthusiasm for what they do. It just seemed like they are very loyal and enthusiastic for representing baseball players and kind of drew me to them.

On staying with ACES despite the PED rumors and links to them last fall…

“I think for me I wanted to hear it from Sam and Seth’s mouth exactly what was going on before I even talked to the union or anybody else. I called those guys up and asked them point blank what was going on and they’ve always been open and honest to me. It’s easy to make assumptions or believe everything you read in the paper but I’ve known these guys for 12-13 years now and the only thing I can go on is the track record for how they’ve treated me and what they’ve done for me and there’s been no complaints on my end and no blemishes on their end. I’m very appreciative of everything they’ve done for me and I think they’ve done a terrific job.

On how they’ve been compared to what he hoped they would be when he signed…

“That and more. I never would have thought that when I was talking to Keith Miller back home in Chesapeake, Virginia, that I would get a chance to participate in six All-Star Games and go from start to finish of my career with one team. I never would have thought that. They have far exceeded the expectations that I had. It’s tough, you’d like to think that when you are 18 years old that you’re going to become an All-Star and be able to sign a nice deal but realistically I always tried to be more realistic than that. They have done a terrific job for me and I’m thrilled.”

Why I Chose My Agency: Jay Bruce

Reds right fielder Jay Bruce is a longtime client of Sosnick Cobbe Sports.  I spoke with Jay Monday night about his agency choice.

How he first came into contact with Sosnick Cobbe Sports:

I spoke with some guys from around Beaumont, Jason Tyner and Kevin Millar, they told me I should start speaking with advisors [prior to the 2005 draft]. First guy on that list was Toby Trotter from Sosnick Cobbe Sports. And this was before all the hoopla started, all the big games and national scouting combines. They were one of the first groups to come in. I was a little bit under the radar. I met with Toby, and everything about him pretty much added up to me to a guy I wanted to work with.

On being advised by the Boras Corporation prior to Sosnick Cobbe:

I also interviewed ACES and the Boras Corporation. Everyone knows who Scott Boras is. Boras is known for having the biggest players in the game, the most heralded players in the game. Being a 17 or 18-year-old naive high school student, I went with the name.  A couple of months before the draft, a lot of scouts came up to me at the Texas Scouting Association game, and told me, "We just want to let you know that you are probably cutting out a third to half of the teams in baseball by choosing Scott Boras." I started thinking about it, and I went home, talked to my parents, and they said, "You have to go with your gut. If baseball is what you really want to pursue out of high school, then you probably need to re-evaluate your choice." I thought about it, and I'm still kind of ashamed to this day, my mom called Jim Pizzolatto [his contact at the Boras Corporation] and let him know that I was going to switch agencies. I still see Jim sometimes and we're very cordial, and I don't think there's any hard feelings.

On why Boras didn't work for him:

This is no slight on Scott at all or anything that they did, because they are one of if not the best at doing their job for their players.  It wasn't anything necessarily that they did wrong, but I wanted to take a different approach to the way I "marketed" myself, because they didn't want me hitting for any scouts, they didn't want me filling out any information, they were really really pushing me to go to college. Some guys, that works great for. But I wanted to give myself the chance to be drafted as highly as I could, and they didn't need to push me to go to college, because had I not gotten drafted in the first round out of high school, I was going to college. I signed a letter of intent to go to Tulane University, and I was going to honor that. I had no problem going to college.

It was just not as open of a relationship as I would have liked. They just didn't seem like the way that I wanted to represent myself, they didn't sit well with me. I like talking to people, I like really giving people the impression of myself, from myself. I like people to know what they're getting. They want to keep the distance with high schoolers, I think, between the scouts and the player. Which for a lot of guys, it works, but I just wanted to give myself the opportunity to make the best impression I could on all these people.   They never did anything wrong to me, but I just decided to go back to Sosnick Cobbe. They made the best impression, and they were straightforward. It became a relationship that kind of transcended business a little bit. A lot of people don't like to mix business with friendship, but if I can trust someone that I consider a friend, I can trust them to do business.

On how Matt Sosnick retained Jay's business after Toby Trotter left the agency:

After the draft, I was in the airport going to instructional league. Toby and Matt called me up. Toby said "Hey Jay, I just want to let you know that I'm leaving the agency." He had prayed a lot about it and decided he wanted to do something else. Matt said, "I want to let you know that I am going to be the guy you deal with now." If it wasn't for Matt being on the phone, I probably would have switched agencies and been done with it.

He made me feel like I was a priority. Matt was on the phone and made it an easy decision for me, and that was the true start of what I consider a great relationship both on and off the field. That showed how Matt is as a person. That means a lot to me. He takes a genuine interest in my family and really goes beyond the job description. That's important to me, but it's not important to some people and I completely respect that. I really value my relationship with Matt, and he's also done a great job, so it works out. I definitely understand that if he didn't do a great job for me and we were friends, it would be a little tougher to move on or even have that conversation. I consider him a friend, but he does an unbelievable job with contract negotiations.

On the six-year, $51MM extension Bruce signed with the Reds in 2010:

I was interested in getting something worked out. It kind of became more of a trend, teams locking guys up. I talked to Matt, and he had pretty amicable talks with the Reds. Matt has a very good understanding as far as the numbers and comps and stuff like that. He did a good job and communicated with the Reds well and was really up front with them and let them know I wanted to get something done. The Reds were accommodating as well. Matt relayed what I wanted to them and we got the deal done.

I signed the contract extension with the Reds, and Matt provided the information that allowed me to make a decision that I felt was right.  Matt does a good job of providing information that allows you to make a decision on your own, and that's something that I really like.

On Jay's relationship with Matt and the agency:

The personal side of it is as important to me as the business. I enjoy working with him as a person and I enjoy our relationship as friends, too. Anyone who has talked to Matt knows, he's an incredibly bright human being. He provides me a lot of perspective on things that otherwise I might not even really know about. I think over the years we've created a relationship with a very open line of communication. Over the years he's been an open book and so have I. There's no beating around the bush.

I wasn't just a number, and that was huge to me. That's how I conduct my life. It's an extension of yourself. If people deal with Sosnick Cobbe Sports, and they know that I deal with them, I want them to say, "Oh, that's Jay Bruce's agency. I can see why.

On big vs. small agencies:

A lot of times, the agent and the player don't have much of a relationship outside the business part of it. And if you don't have a contract, there's really not a ton the agent does. They facilitate endorsement deals, but as far as the day-to-day stuff, there's really not a ton to talk about. I never talked to Scott Boras when I had them. If you take the baseball part out of it and think about small companies vs. big corporations, there's more personal service at a small company. I think quality at the smaller agencies has probably gotten much better over the years because the information available to them now is a lot more than it was.

It's hard to go away from the big agencies. It's hard to not go with the proven names of the industry. I'm glad that I gave Matt and those guys a chance and I'm glad that they sought me out as well. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Check out our first entry in the Why I Chose My Agency series, where Matt Holliday discussed his relationship with Boras.

Why I Chose My Agency: Matt Holliday

In the first of a six-week series at MLB Trade Rumors, B.J. Rains spoke with Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday on his agent Scott Boras and why he picked him and the relationship the two have.

Here is what Holliday had to say about Boras:

"I signed with Scott Boras after my first year in the big leagues in 2004. My brother had him as an agent so I was familiar with him and interviewed him when I interviewed a bunch of agents while trying to decide after the 2004 season.

I went to California to meet with Scott and Mike Fiore (works for Boras) and Steve Odgers (a training guru employed by Boras) and some of their people and saw their facility and I just felt like to me, in doing the research and looking into all of the possible agents, I felt like it was a good fit. I felt like they did a fantastic job. They had research capabilities and staff and they had an institution in California for working out and longevity of careers and it just felt like they had all of their bases covered. Scott had a lot of experience as a player and obviously his resume as an agent spoke for itself and the players he’s had.

You want an agent that you can trust that they know what they are doing. I think for me, he’s somebody that has your best interest in negotiating your contract and he also has people on staff that can help you with your game and not just your contract. They offered a lot of services outside of here. They have a psychologist on staff, people who are doing research for arbitration cases years in advance. They have a research team, a marketing team, a sports nutrition team. I just felt it wasn’t just about negotiating your contract. They offered a lot more.

Also the personal relationship with somebody that you enjoy sitting down and talking to them. Scott is as accessible as you want him to be. I could call him right now. He’s got a lot of clients and people say they don’t hear from Scott but he’ll give you as much or as little attention as you want. I’m not a high maintenance guy, I don’t need to talk to him a lot, but if I need anything, I can call him anytime. I talk to Mike Fiore once a week, but like I said, Scott is as accessible as you want him to be.

I see him from time to time. Whenever we play in L.A. I’ll have lunch or dinner with him. If I wanted him to come to St. Louis he’d come anytime I want. It’s just one of those things where again, I don’t need a lot of maintenance.

Scott has been better than I hoped he would be. I’ve really enjoyed it, not only what he’s offered me as an agent but just getting to know him as a person and the father and husband that he is and all the wisdom that he has that I’ve enjoyed from not just baseball but all walks of life.

I laugh a lot of times when people have opinions of Scott. They couldn’t be further from the truth, the majority of them. I enjoy spending time with him and I think he’s really fun to be around and really good at what he does. I don’t have a negative thing to say about him."